Dallas Museum of Art is currently exhibiting America Will Be!: Surveying the Contemporary Landscape. It is a focus exhibition of works primarily from the DMA’s collection of contemporary art that take the American landscape as a point of departure. If scenic images of the land were historically used to glorify the territory that would come to be called America, this exhibition looks at contemporary artists who have redefined the landscape genre through a variety of media and strategies. America Will Be! broadens the concept of the landscape through literal depictions of the natural world and allusions to a diversity of American experiences.
The title of the exhibition is a rousing line from “Let America Be America Again,” a 1935 poem by Langston Hughes. In the poem, Hughes yearns for a future where the grandiose promises of the American dream are finally delivered to all people, regardless of race, class, or country of origin. He swears that every worker who has constructed America will redeem “the land, the mines, the plants, the rivers” and the spirit of the nation.
“The Dallas Museum of Art has a strong interest in further developing areas of artistic production that have historically been underrepresented in its collection,” says Dr. Agustín Arteaga, The Eugene McDermott Director. “America Will Be! showcases how new acquisitions in its contemporary collection can augment its collection of postwar masterworks to tell richer and more varied stories of American visual culture and identity.”
On view through October 6, the exhibition comprises six thematic sections: the sea, the road, the horizon, bodyscapes, accumulation and cultivation, and the home. These features demonstrate how contemporary artists utilize abstract or conceptual frameworks in the representations of both natural and constructed environments. Personal, communal, and political allusions are incorporated within works that are almost entirely devoid of people.
Artists For Exhibition
Pioneering artists like Vija Celmins, Richard Diebenkorn, Brice Marden, Louise Nevelson, and Thomas Struth will be shown alongside leading and emerging contemporary artists like Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, Mark Bradford, TR Ericsson, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Faith Ringgold, and Adriana Varejão. The show expands the understanding of “American” to include a hemispheric definition in which Canadian and Latin American artists are represented. Additionally, also accounting for artists who were born outside of the United States but have spent significant time living and working in this country.
A number of recent acquisitions will make their DMA debut in the show. These include works by Thornton Dial, Ronald Lockett, and Nellie Mae Rowe, African American folk artists from the South whose works and histories are preserved by the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta. Artists whose works were acquired from the Dallas Art Fair and which will be on view at the Museum for the first time. These include Justin Adian, Sanford Biggers, Shara Hughes, Matthew Ronay, Brie Ruais, and Summer Wheat.
“Contemporary art has always been responsive to shifts in the cultural landscape, and the artists on view demonstrate how art can reflect society during momentous change while also endowing meaning and dignity to our everyday lives,” says Anna Katherine Brodbeck, the Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art.
In conjunction with America Will Be!, Lonnie Holley will appear at Late Night in April. Holley is one of the most renowned sculptors, installation artists, and performers of the Deep South. Improvising with his longtime collaborator, cellist Dave Eggar, and performers from the POINT ensemble, Holley will create a performance that evokes experiences both personal and universal, haunting and hopeful. The event is presented in partnership with the SOLUNA festival. Holley’s promised gift The Journey: From Africa to America (1983) will be shown in the exhibition.
About the Dallas Museum of Art
Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is among the 10 largest art museums in the country and is distinguished by its commitment to research, innovation, and public engagement. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than 24,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Located in the nation’s largest arts district, the Museum acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary events, and dramatic and dance presentations. Since the Museum’s return to free general admission in 2013, the DMA has welcomed more than 4 million visitors, including more than 800,000 in 2018.
The Dallas Museum of Art is supported, in part, by the generosity of DMA Members and donors, the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Texas Commission on the Arts. For more information, visit DMA.org.